DARTMOUTH — Chief Brian Levesque and the Dartmouth Police Department are reminding residents to properly secure their vehicles at night after an uptick in car break-ins this month.

Since July 9, there have been 18 reported car break-ins in Dartmouth. Six of those break-ins were reported Tuesday night in the area of Sharp Street, Schooner Drive and Admiral Point Drive.

Each of the 18 break-ins was the result of people leaving their vehicles unlocked. Chief Levesque would like to urge residents to lock their car doors at night to avoid becoming a victim.

"These are all crimes of opportunity where this thief or thieves are going through neighborhoods pulling on door handles to see what is left unlocked and rifling through peoples' vehicles and belongings," Chief Levesque said.

"We are asking residents to be vigilant about locking their doors at night and also reporting any suspicious activity they may see in their neighborhoods."

At approximately 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night, Dartmouth Police received a call from a resident reporting a suspicious person in the area of Sharp Street who was attempting to open the door of a vehicle.

Dartmouth Police officers responded and searched the area, but were unable to locate any suspects. Later Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, police received multiple reports of car break-ins overnight.

Other break-ins over the past three weeks occurred in the area of Commonwealth Avenue and the Bliss Corner neighborhood.

Items that were stolen in the break-ins include wallets, purses, pocketbooks, loose change and credit cards.

Police have person of interest they are seeking to identify who is suspected of breaking into vehicles in the Cove Road area.

Anyone who can identify the person in the photos is asked to call Dartmouth Police. Police also ask to be alerted if you notice suspicious activity in your neighborhood or if you believe you may be a victim of a break-in.

July is National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than three-quarters of a million vehicles were stolen in the United States in 2017. The value of these stolen vehicles is nearly $6 billion.

The NHTSA and Dartmouth Police provides these common sense tips for vehicle owners to use when parking and exiting your vehicle.

  • Take your keys. Don't leave them in your vehicle.
  • Close all windows and lock all doors.
  • Never leave valuables in your vehicle, and if you do, make sure they are out of sight.
  • Never leave credit cards/debit cards, cash or your wallet or purse inside of your vehicle overnight.
  • Park in well-lit areas or preferably inside a garage, if possible. Install lights with motion sensors near where you park your vehicle.
  • Get in the routine of double-checking that your vehicle is locked and secure each night around 9 p.m. This is known as the 9 p.m. Routine.

If your vehicle has been stolen or broken into, Dartmouth Police say to follow these steps:

  • Call 911 to report a vehicle theft or break-in. A copy of the police report and/or a case number will be needed to provide to your insurance company.
  • You may be asked to provide the license plate number, make, model and color of the car, the VIN number and any identifying characteristics.
  • Contact your insurance company to file a claim within 24 hours of when you discovered your vehicle was stolen or broken into.
  • If you find your vehicle before authorities, contact the police immediately and then your insurance company.